Land Rover LR4 takes a beating - but can your wallet?
Land Rover’s new LR4 is big and heavy, but there are bigger, heavier sport-utility vehicles.
It’s also pricey, starting at $47,650. But there are other big SUVs that cost more, yet won’t climb the side of a hill or crash through a rocky stream.
So the question with a Land Rover – or its larger cousin, the Range Rover – is just how much are you willing to pay for a unique looking SUV? And who would take such a pricey luxury SUV off-road to test out all its gadgets and four-wheeling ability?The answer: Very few.
Most folks believe $24,000, the average price for a vehicle in the U.S., is a lot of dough. So $61,115, which is what the tested light metallic blue LR4 cost, is a real luxury.
You can take this, or any Land Rover, deep off road and over craggy rocks that few others could consider. I’ve driven various Rovers over test tracks that oozed with mud and featured challenging steep inclines that would scare the tailpipe off most SUVs. These things are tough.
Third row tussle
On the luxury front, there’s a heated steering wheel, soft premium leather seats (part of a $9,165 luxury package) that includes a couple of third-row seats so your Rover will seat seven. The package also includes eight-way power front seats with adjustable side bolsters, a 480-watt Harmon Kardon stereo with 14 speakers, and a power tilt/telescope steering wheel.
Seats are heated, with three speeds for the front seats and two speeds for the second row seats. I was surprised the front seats were not cooled, considering the vehicle’s price, but there was grained walnut trim and three sunroofs. The front sunroof powers open and all three feature a netted sun shade.The seats are well contoured and comfortable, and the driver’s seat has three memory settings. There also are big fold-down armrests for the front seats, and the second row is comfortable for three adults.
The third-row seats are cramped and best used on short jaunts. Getting into the third row is a bit of a tussle, and folding down that back row requires getting in far enough to fold the bottom seat cushion forward before the seat back will fold down. Oddly, it doesn’t fold flat to create a floor for cargo hauling.
The LR4’s black leather dash looks good, with two big round gauges and large knobs for radio and climate controls. There’s a digital trip computer readout between the main gauges, but operating it is not as easy as in many lesser priced vehicles. As with most luxury vehicles, many of the controls are a bit confusing and best operated, for safety’s sake, while the vehicle is at a standstill.
In back is a split rear hatch, which is helpful when loading. However, if you have all three rows of seats in place, you’ll only be able to sit a couple of grocery bags, or a briefcase or two, in back. But with the seats down, you can load up a fair amount of gear. And there’s a ladder built onto the truck’s tail so you can climb up to the roof and put more luggage on top.
Step-up height into the Rover’s quiet interior is high and a running board would be helpful, although that would get in the way if you were pounding through the tundra.
The LR4 has five settings for off-roading in various conditions, and there’s height adjustment to increase ground clearance, which is 7.3 inches. But the LR4 is a strong performer on the road, which is where it will spend most of its time.The SUV’s 5.0-liter V8 is strong and fairly quiet. With a hefty 375 horsepower, it will quickly ramp the truck up to highway speeds. Its smooth and quiet six-speed automatic transmission comes with CommandShift, which allows clutchless manual gear shifts.
The LR4 is heavy, weighing 5,833 pounds, but the engine is more than sufficient to tow up to 7,716 pounds. So a trailer with a major load is no problem.
Coupled with the power is precise handling for a big vehicle, which makes the SUV easy to drive and park. There’s little body lean in turns and a fairly firm feel to the wheel.
Ride is mostly smooth and controlled, but it can get trucklike and jiggly on disintegrating cement city streets.
Braking is first rate, with four-wheel discs and traction and stability control. The four-wheel drive system is constant, so shifting in and out of four-wheel mode isn’t necessary.
Naturally, this big beast drinks premium fuel, and a lot of it. I got 14 mpg in a relatively even mix of city and highway driving. That seems about right, as the EPA rates this at 12 mpg city and 17 highway.
So if you lean toward luxury, need an SUV that’ll climb Mount Kilimanjaro and have the dough to blow on a special four-wheeler, the LR4 may be calling your name.